In a suit filed by Royette Fincher against Medicredit (Cogent Financial Group) on October 18, 2012 a disturbing allegation was made that a Medicredit debt collector used information gathered from social media sources, like Twitter or Facebook, to manipulate the consumer into paying a debt.
According to the complaint filed, "During the week of August 8, 2012, Defendant's representative going by the name of "Wes Alford" contacted Plaintiff on multiple occasions, Each call was conducted in a rude and threatening manner. Mr. Alford made various threats of filing a lawsuit, obtaining a judgment, and interfering with Plaintiffs business.
Mr. Alford further stated personal facts to Plaintiff in a threatening fashion, indicating that he had located Plaintiff on social media outlets, and was familiar with her personal life, including the fact that she had children and had recently been on vacation."
But then the situation is said to have become disturbing as the debt collector allegedly and illegally contacted third parties in an attempt to collect the debt.
"On or about August 8, 2012, Mr. Alford contacted the fiance of Plaintiff, Mr. Michael Owen, in two separate phone calls in an effort to collect this debt from Plaintiff.
Defendant's collector asked Mr. Owen if he knew the Plaintiff and disclosed that Plaintiff allegedly owed the Defendant over $8,000 for a medical bill and threatened to sue plaintiff and "put a lien on her business".
The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act) prohibits any contacts to third parties that are designed to put pressure on the Plaintiff to return the collector's calls or embarrass the Plaintiff into paying a debt."
But the story does not end there.
The complaint goes on to say that the Medicredit debt collector went on to call Mr. Owen additional times and also called Fincher's mother "and advised her of the alleged outstanding debt and threatened her by stating the Defendant was going to sue Ms. Fincher."
A few days later, on August 13, 2012, the Medicredit debt collector is alleged to have called and threatened the consumer with taking money out of her bank account and "attempt" to take her business license.
This case was filed by Brooke Sanchez, a lawyer with Lewis & Jurnovoy in Pensacola, Florida.
Medicredit is said to be located at 3620 I-70 Dr. SE, Suite C, Columbia, Missouri 65201. The BBB gives Cogent Financial Group/Medicredit an F rating but says they are located at 8260 East Raintree Dr. Suite 210, Scottsdale , Arizona 85260.
The Missouri address is a bit odd since that location seems to be the offices of The Outsource Group, a company which offers "onsite financial counseling" for hospital patients prior to discharge. "We provide onsite financial counselors during each client hospital's peak admission and discharge hours, to ensure personal contact."
According to the Medicredit, Inc. website at medicreditcorp.com, Medicredit, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Outsource Group. Medicredit, Inc. is located at the Suite C address according to state records and Michael DiMarco is the president and director of the company.
Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if there might be some confusion in the identification of the exact underlying companies in the lawsuit filed.
Regardless, such alleged debt collection behavior is not acceptable if proven true.
It will take time to discover how this particular case just recently filed will turn out but consumers should be aware of what behavior is not permissible under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.
- A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.
- A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.
- A debt collector may not communicate with any person other than a consumer, their attorney, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.
Now don't get me wrong, there are many good, fair, reasonable, and law abiding debt collectors out there who would never think of engaging in such alleged behavior. And while some may feel "all is fair" in order to collect a debt, there are limits.
In some regard the art of collection is knowing how close to the line you can get without becoming abusive. And like in the debt relief world where the best solutions are not one size fits all attempts, the collection of a debt should not be also.
Originally published on GetOutofDebt.org.